Richtmyer–Meshkov instability

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The Richtmyer–Meshkov instability (RMI) occurs when two fluids of different density are impulsively accelerated. Normally this is by the passage of a shock wave. The development of the instability begins with small amplitude perturbations which initially grow linearly with time. This is followed by a nonlinear regime with bubbles appearing in the case of a light fluid penetrating a heavy fluid, and with spikes appearing in the case of a heavy fluid penetrating a light fluid. A chaotic regime eventually is reached and the two fluids mix. This instability can be considered the impulsive-acceleration limit of the Rayleigh–Taylor instability[citation needed].


R. D. Richtmyer provided a theoretical prediction in "Taylor instability in a shock acceleration of compressible fluids",[1] and E. E. Meshkov (Евгений Евграфович Мешков) provided experimental verification [2] Materials in the cores of stars, like Cobalt-56 from Supernova 1987A were observed earlier than expected. This was evidence of mixing due to Richtmyer–Meshkov and Rayleigh–Taylor instabilities[citation needed].


During the implosion of an inertial confinement fusion target, the hot shell material surrounding the cold D-T fuel layer is shock-accelerated. This instability is also seen in Magnetized target fusion.[3] Mixing of the shell material and fuel is not desired and efforts are made to minimize any tiny imperfections or irregularities which will be magnified by RMI.

Supersonic combustion in a Scramjet may benefit from RMI as the fuel-oxidants interface is enhanced by the breakup of the fuel into finer droplets. Also in studies of deflagration to detonation transition (DDT) processes show that RMI-induced flame acceleration can result in detonation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics 13, 297-319 (1960).
  2. ^ "Instability of the Interface of Two Gases Accelerated by a Shock Wave", Soviet Fluid Dynamics 4,101-104 (1969).
  3. ^ "On the collapse of a Gas Cavity by an Imploding Molten Lead Shell and Richtmyer-Meshkov Instability" Victoria Suponitsky, et al. General Fusion Inc, 2013

External links[edit]